Ever since Richard Pryor?s three classic films ?Live In Concert,? ?Live on the Sunset Strip? and ?Here and Now?, stand-up comedy left behind its late night dive image to become part of mainstream American culture and entertainment. People paid good money to see just Richard Pryor standing onstage, larger than life, with no special effects, actual car chases or spilled blood, just Richard Pryor with all his expressions, gesticulations, sound effects and drama of the human soul. It was enough. Most comedians working today either consciously or unconsciously tip their hats to Richard Pryor by using physical comedy, using their own neurosis as rich material, and by getting past just one-liners to building drama. Comedy today is not for polite society. Most comedians I have heard lately will talk about pretty much anything. Nothing seems to be taboo, and most of it is probably inappropriate for impressionable young children.
Sure you can turn on your television most nights and find some kind of stand-up comedy, but for me television is the wrong venue for comedy. While film was the perfect medium to showcase the pure genius of a great artist like Richard Pryor, television doesn?t have the space or time or intimacy to do the same for the rare comedians, let alone the emerging artists working on their craft. The chemistry of laughter, even the most raucous laughter, is actually a very delicate thing. Much of the experience of live comedy is the interplay between the comedian and the audience, and the audience members with each other. One thing is for sure, you will never be the butt of a comedian?s joke if you?re watching safely from your couch. You also won?t have the opportunity to laugh when that same comedian ribs your companions, or jokes about a local situation that only the locals could possibly know about.
The perfect setting for comedy is actually, if not a dive, an intimate setting where the comedian is up close and personal, naked to the audience and not blinded by lights. A real person, reaching out to other people who are each both ordinary and extraordinary, can create a unique experience that can only happen in that room on that night. Each upcoming Tuesday night at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Caf? will uphold the worthy tradition of naked comedy. While the first Tuesday of the month continues with Darkroom Productions? Rats in the Alley Improv Troupe (more about them at www.ratsinthealley.com) the remaining Tuesdays will be taken up with The World Comedy Jam. That?s at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Caf?, 818 Marin Street, Downtown Vallejo, 94590. 707-554-4540..
According to Julie Anderson, producer of the World Comedy Jam and co-host with Jorge Castaneda, ?the mission of the show is to bring a diverse line-up of comics from all over the California bay area to Vallejo, bringing a much needed evening of comedy to the North Bay. The showcase consists of comics at various levels of experience, from coming to the stage for the very first time to working comics playing at clubs like The Punch Line, Cobbs, The San Jose Improv, and Pepperbelly’s.? The show is open to anyone who would like a chance to take the stage. People who have never done comedy before but want to give it a try will be allowed the opportunity. Each week there will be a few 2-3 minute spots for these people to take a shot at it – just show up and talk to one of the hosts – Julie Anderson or Jorge Castaneda. To be booked in the showcase, comics can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each week there are several featured comics. Following is a list of the headliners coming up. Wishing you Peace and Poetry…martha mims, editor.
April 18. Gail Epps recently opened for Eddie Griffin at the San Jose Improv. They did six sold-out shows. Back in the day she held the title of lead singer for a NYC-based new wave band, The Blenders and performed at places like CBGB?s and Max?s Kansas City. Stand-up comedy has become a life-style that defines who she is. Whether it?s on stage, in line at the airport, or walking through a farmer?s market, you will always find Gail entertaining everyone in her immediate vicinity. She can?t help it. Gail is a regular performer in the bay area, and makes occasional jaunts to her native New York, where she insists that she has to tell the jokes a little faster.
April 25. Grace White, aka That Old Hippie Chick, is a classic bohemian with a mother who stalks her, and a father to whom road rage is an art-form. White launched her comedy career at the onset of her “Middle Ages,” and has gone on to open for the Jefferson Starship, 3 Doors Down, Edgar Winter, Leon Russell, Father Guido Sarducci, and Kevin Pollack. She made her film debut in “The Independent,” starring Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo. White is a symphony in contradictions, a blur of reluctant energy and a compulsive workaholic entrepreneur who stubbornly maintains her title of World’s Laziest Woman. She’s also a successful single parent (her daughter’s never been to jail), and has earned a solid reputation for herding aspiring comedians through their performing puberty.
May 9. Tessie Chua is fulfilling her sacred duty to set the record straight with the “real truth” about Asian Pacific women. She welcomes you into her world where everything ends up intensely funny and then gets even more weird. Tessie on dating: “You go out with them once and it’s ‘She wants a relationship.’ Now I just give it to ’em right off the bat! I need a relationship! I want a commitment from you now! I want to have your baby! Then they get off the bus!” She has shared the stage with Robin Williams, Robert Schimmel and Tom Rhodes.
May 16. Tim Lee wasn’t supposed to be a comedian. He spent years developing simulation and analytical models of population dynamics before he discovered that this bored him to tears. In 2003 he tried stand-up comedy for the first time and the tears stopped. Tim has performed at clubs all over California, Oregon and Hawaii. “I like to point out the absurdity around us that everyone else is ignoring”